Alan Jacobs: Internet in the Classroom
I spend a good deal of time talking to my students about technological resources available to them, and trying to get them to use those resources well and wisely. I think it’s pretty clear from this blog that I am anything but a Luddite or techno-skeptic. But I do not want any internet access in my classrooms. I forbid laptops in the classroom altogether. I teach literature, and I believe that my primary job in the classroom is to instruct students in better use of the technology of the book. There is no more evidently false assumption than the assumption that people — even academically successful people — are comfortable with books and use them well.
Every class I teach is focused in one way or another on helping people understand how books work and how to get the most from them. We can unplug for three hours a week or so in order to pursue that goal, can’t we?
I’m completely on board. For most subjects, internet access seems completely unnecessary. How does it enhance a study of Shakespeare, or Poe, or World History? If you have worthy reading materials and a skilled teacher, the internet will only serve as a distraction. The potential for distraction is much stronger than the potential benefit. Not only is there a distinct possibility that many students would rather bounce around Facebook or Twitter during class than pay attention, but even those who are seeking relevant information will be a) overwhelmed by information which they aren’t trained to parse for quality, and b) staring at their screens rather than listening to the teacher.
We should trust teachers and professors to provide the information necessary to a robust curriculum. That is why we train them, after all. If there’s relevant and beneficial information online, the teacher can provide it for the students, or the students can bring it to the teacher’s attention.
This obviously doesn’t apply to web or IT classes, or other subjects that are necessarily wired.
Link and title jacked verbatim from JT @ Between Two Worlds (all that other stuff was me, though).